22 November 2014

Travel : A Quick New York City

The star of New York City's skyline, The Chrysler Building

Sometimes we just cannot help it. Due to work or schedule, we sometimes ended up in one of the best cities in the world with just a few hours to spare. Between conferences, meetings and people to see, only a small gap of precious time available for leisure and while in a city like New York, you do not just chuck aside the opportunity to experience the city at least a bit. So, where do you start? How do you chose among the many sites and experiences to fit into your small frame of time? What to do to gain the most in so little time? Trust me, it is possible to experience the best part of the city and here are my best picks that will make your quick stay a memorable one.

Breathtaking colors of Central Park in fall

So the day is quite tight and you can only squeeze a couple of hours between a conference and lunch meeting. Why not decompress yourself by taking a walk in the famous Central Park? Not only it is one of the most magnificent man made urban park, it is also the most significant landmark of New York City. Every part of this 843 acres of the city's gem is unique and any trip to the city is incomplete without a visit. If you had to do one thing and one thing alone in the city it has to be the park especially if time is a factor. No queue, no hassle, no tickets needed, just you and nature!

The view from the Staten Island ferry ride

Have another hour to kill? How about fill it with a breathtaking view of the city on a 25 minutes ferry ride to Staten Island and back? Not only will you get a fabulous view of Manhattan and the New York Harbor, you will also get a perfect view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island! Once was the only way of transporting people between the city and its boroughs (Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten) before the construction of the bridges, the ferry now runs for free, around the clock everyday of the year. This ferry ride is by far the best way to see New York city on a short trip!
Halal Guy on 53rd Street between 6th and 5th Avenue

Street food carts are synonym with the city. Everywhere you go you're bound to bum into carts on the street side selling anything from pretzels to hotdogs. A few years ago I was on a vacation in New York city and while browsing the city, I saw this long queue that got my curiosity bubbling. I then found out the queue lead to a humble cart selling a mix menu of Middle Eastern street food of rice combination with meat (lamb, chicken) or gyros by a bunch of young man calling themselves The Halal Guys. These guys are so popular in the city that even the stars were spotted queuing to get a piece of them! Along the way I passed by the cart many times in multiple visits and the queue never stops. The queue actually gets longer at night right at the time when the pubs and clubs are closing. So, if you are up for a taste of Middle East right in the heart of the city while brushing shoulders with the locals, head to the 53rd Street between 5th and 6th avenue. Who knows you might bum into a celebrity? ;)

Hotdog and pretzel carts like this can be easily found scattered around the city

If Middle Eastern food is not your thing, you then must try the good old hotdog from the street vendors that can be found at any street corner in the city. Apparently it is the oldest street food in New York dated all the way to 1871 when a German vendor opened the first hotdog stand in Coney Island. There's nothing that spells New York more than a quick bite of 'mustard and ketchup' while on the go, in fact that was the first thing I learned about New York city from the movies way before I know what travelling was all about. Yes, it was a dream of mine to eat street hotdog like the New Yorkers! Now if eating on the go is not your kind of thing but still want to try the famous New York hotdog, try one of these joints here instead.

The Grand Central

The Grand Central Terminal, more than a hundred years old and the largest rail travel facility in the world is almost a small town on its own. Housing more than 60 shops, 35 eateries and connects trains, subways, buses and taxis together; there are so much to see here. The architecture is stunning which explains why Grand Central is one of the most filmed locations with movies like 'Friends with Benefits' to the Hitchcock's classic 'North by Northwest' and all the way to DreamWorks Animation's 'Madagascar' has chosen it as one of the locations. While the terminal offers an hour plus long tour (of which on a short stay might not be an option) you can still slot a quick visit to the Grand Central in your short trip in the city. Instead of taking a cab or hotel shuttle to the airport, why not head to the airport via Grand Central? This way you can kill two birds with a stone and get to experience the terminal on your way home!

Little Italy

If your hotel happened to be in the Lower Manhattan area, a quick swing over to Little Italy is surely a must, whether to dine at one of the many authentic Italian restaurants or stop by for a quick grab of gelato, cannoli and espresso or just to browse around the blocks. Get lost in one of the fascinating gift shops with so many interesting items on display, you're bound be get out with some great stuff to remember the trip by. For me the uniqueness of Little Italy is in its people - the ushers of the restaurants, shop keepers, these characters are so colorful! Sadly Little Italy is shrinking and it is not surprising if one day it will cease to exist. So, grab an opportunity to stop by while you can!

The Last Ship, now playing at Neil Simon Theater

If your night is not so busy, why not try and catch a Broadway show? There are so many productions playing, sometimes it is hard to choose what to watch. The best is try and contact the concierge of your hotel for the list of shows or visit broadway.com for the full listings and timing of the shows. You can also book your tickets online or head directly to the box-office to try your luck and get the tickets. On my last trip to the city, I managed to watch a play based on Sting's latest album called The Last Ship and it was worth the price of the tickets! I would watch it again, anytime.  

Do not fancy Broadway? How about being in the live audience of a TV show instead? If you know the dates of your trip way in advance, you can try and request for tickets to be in the taping of these shows. New York city is the home of shows like Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live to name a few. If you are a fan, you might have a chance to watch them live by applying for free tickets on the website. The downside is this taping would normally take some time and unless you do not plan to do much, it might not be for you.

There is no easier way to take in the spirit of New York city than just to walk along 5th Avenue. With so many stores like Tiffany & Co, Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, Apple store, and great structures like NY Public Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Empire State Building and St Patrick Cathedral, you will never be out of things to see. It is amazing how an avenue can offer so much. It is best to know where to start as 5th avenue is 7 miles long! Unless you have the whole day to spare, you might want to plan your walk accordingly.

I believe that no stay is too short to experience New York city. As intimidating as it can be, New York city is actually quite easy to navigate even for an out-of-towner. I suggest that you download an app on your smart phone (Ulmon City Maps To Go is fabulous) to help you with the navigation and find places you wish to go. Know what you want to do and plan properly, I am sure anybody can have a good time and bring home some fabulous memories from this great city.

post signature


  1. Great list! Central Park is my favorite place in NYC. :)

  2. Excellent article, Ida! New York City is definitely on my list of places I want to visit and you have given many great sounding suggestions. :)

    1. Thank you, Elaine! I hope the list will help you with your trip :)

  3. NYC is so fabulous, love your photos!

  4. Great photos! I would love to visit New York City.

    1. We should make a blogger meet up session in NYC!

  5. It's been a while since I've been to NYC; I'd love to go back again someday. There's so much to see and do; more stuff are added to the list after seeing your list :)

    1. Thanks Jane.. anytime is a good time for NYC :)

  6. A short stay can be great in a familiar place (no pressure going sighseeing, you can just go shopping and have fun)
    Oh, I miss New York... but it's always such a hassle just getting in the country... the long lines at the immigration, the wait, the third degree you have to endure... puts me off, makes me think I'd rather stay in Europe. Well, maybe every 5 years or so.

    1. I hv to justify the hassle of getting the 10 year visa by going every year. Yeah, i know what you mean by the immigration queue

  7. I love this! Thank you for sharing Mrs C! I've never been to NY, but hopefully one day! I'm bookmarking this page so I know where to visit! Seeing Central Park with all of it's fall foliage would be a dream! :)

    1. Yes NYC is one of those must see cities. Hope the post would come in handy fr yr future trip :)

  8. I agree with you. And I love New York. Perhaps I will go there again in September.


Say your thoughts!